Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Race Recap & Review: St. Patrick's Day Run Fest

On a bitter cold March morning, I traveled about a half hour from my home to run an 8k during the St. Patrick's Day Run Fest in Hagerstown, MD. Matthew and I planned on running this race together but he was under the weather on race day so I went solo.

This event offered multiple race distances: 5k, 8k, half marathon, one mile walk, and kid's races. Because the 8k distance is one I've only ever raced twice (both times during Shamrock Marathon Weekend in VA Beach), I decided to run the 4.97 mile race.

Arriving in Hagerstown, MD, I quickly found free street parking about a quarter mile from the race start/packet pick-up and then registered for my race inside a beautiful theater. For $30 I got entry to the race, a super cute cotton unisex t-shirt, and a free beer after the race. Sweet! This was easily one of the most simple, well-organized race registrations I've ever seen. After walking my shirt back to the car, and using the indoor bathrooms in the theater (another bonus!) I headed out to the race start and ended up bumping into a friend, Steph. We chatted in the "corral" (based on mile/minute times) until the race started. Fun fact, Steph actually was the officiant at our wedding!

We cute.

The 8k, 5k, and one mile walk started at the same time, 10 am. The half marathon had started an hour earlier. All along the course, there was great signage and volunteers letting you know which way to go for each race. The first two-ish miles were in a cemetery which was kinda cool, kinda creepy.

Seed yourselves appropriately, kids. 

Speedy Steph headed towards the cemetery and a smiley volunteer with a directional sign.


After the first few miles in the cemetery, we ran through a bit of downtown Hagerstown and then into a hilly little park. While the morning had started cold, I was overheating a lot by the middle of the race- I'd worn pants, shamrock compression socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a short-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves. Yeah, way too much. I ended up taking off the hat, gloves, and long-sleeve and felt much better. That's the one thing I hate about spring running- it's hard to judge how quickly the temperature will rise as the day goes on.

In the last mile of the course, we exited the park and enjoyed an awesome downhill towards the finish. I had been watching my paces on my Garmin so I knew that I could PR this distance if I held onto the sub-11 minute miles. I rounded the corner to the finish line (it was in the same place as the start so I knew where it was) and completed the race in 53:15 (official time from the website), a 4:14 minute PR for the 8k distance! Instead of medals, they gave out green beads with shamrock baubles on them. Super cute.

After the race, I switched to spectator mode and cheered for Steph as she finished the 8k and for another friend, Sara, as she finished the half. Then the three of us headed down to a bar near the finish line, 28 South, to enjoy our free green beer.

Beer is always better after a run.

Overall, this race was really organized, super fun, and affordable. This one will absolutely go on the calendar for 2018. Y'all know I love a themed-race so the opportunity to wear fun socks AND get complimentary beer?! Sounds like my kind of race.

Do you have a favorite holiday-themed race? Share it in the comments!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Accountability Monday: 6/5/17

Welcome to June! Today is my first day back to work after an amazing 11 days off celebrating my birthday and a week at the beach- I don't even remember what I do for a living anymore! 😃

One of my favorite things about vacation is that we have lots of time to workout; we don't have to squeeze in a run into the end of a busy work day. Matthew and I were very active this week and I have to say, I'm feeling the best I have in a few weeks. 

Tuesday: 3.1 miles, 38:44
Wednesday: OBX Running Company Lighthouse 5k, 32:19; 45 minutes of walking after dinner
Thursday: 50 minutes biking around the outer banks
Friday: 2.51 miles, 30:25
Sunday: Bel Air Town Run 5k, 32:22

Total: 11.9 miles

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Best Run
This is a tie this week between the Lighthouse 5k and the Bel Air Town Run 5k. These are the fastest 5ks I have run in almost 18 months. I don't know how I averaged 10:20/10:25 pace for each of these races but I hope I can keep it up! My current 5k PR is 31:28. I'd love to shatter that and get a sub-30 minute 5k by the end of the year. 

Does this skirt make me look fast?

Bravo Moment
Matthew and I went parasailing at the beach (thanks to my awesome in-laws for the amazing 1st anniversary gift!) and you have to say your weight, out loud, to the boat captain and the guy putting you in the harness for the parachute. It's all about safety so you pretty much have to tell the truth, unlike when you're getting your driver's license/ID where you can fib a little. :-) Anyway, I'm super proud of not having any second thoughts about publicly telling a stranger my weight- I honestly didn't think about how incredible this was until later. Years ago, I never would have said my weight out loud. Never. Even though I weigh more than I want to currently, I have come to a point where I'm getting more comfortable with my body, no matter what the scale says. And that's huge progress for me.

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Quote of The Week
I saw this on one of my social media feeds a few weeks ago and it feels really relevant to me this week-

Yup. Got a few excuses I need to get rid of.

Have a great first week of June!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Accountability Monday: 5/22/17

Good afternoon, friends!

This weekend, Matthew and I snuck away for a quick trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate our first wedding anniversary! I can't believe it's been an entire year since we got married- that flew by!

When we got home yesterday, we ran a quick little 5k to commemorate our actual anniversary and then ate Chinese food, drank a bottle of wine, and ate year-old wedding cake. It was actually pretty tasty!

Tuesday: 2.6 miles, 32:32
Wednesday: 3 miles, 33:49
Thursday: 3 miles, 40:24
Sunday: 3.1 miles, 37:45

Total: 11.7 miles 

Oh, Goofy! You're such a flirt!
PS- This photo has no relation to training this week- I just needed an excuse to share it! :-) 

Best Run
We ran on Thursday afternoon when we arrived in Disney- and although it was the slowest and hottest run of the week, we got to explore all the ins and outs of Disney's Port Orleans Resorts- Riverside and French Quarter. 

Thanks for the map, New Balance!

Bravo Moment
After basically eating all weekend at the International Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot, I was determined to "reset" my habits last night when we got home from vacation. That included not eating the extra Ferrero Rocher chocolates I had in the kitchen. It was a three-hour mental battle, but I did not eat those damn chocolates. Who knew you could think about a piece of candy for three hours?! 😂

Quote of the Week
This week's quote is from the brand spankin' new fireworks show at WDW: "Happily Ever After." Spoiler alert- it is amazing! I laughed, I cried, my jaw dropped at some of the visual effects. I never thought a show could be better than "Wishes" but this one knocked it out of the park! And it was fitting that we watched it while celebrating our first anniversary- "It's just beginning; feel your heart beat faster! Reach out and find your happily ever after!" Appropriate for love- or marathon training! 😜


Go chase your happily ever after this week!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Accountability Monday: 5/15/17

Good morning and happy Monday! Welcome to another installment of Accountability Monday, but with some changes!

In the coming weeks, this blog will have a new look. The content will stay the same- race reviews, weekly training updates, etc.- but the design will be a little different. I've been working on a new layout for a few weeks and I'm excited to share it with you! I hope to have it live by mid-June at the latest.

Accountability Monday is also going to see some upgrades. I still want to use this space to keep myself on track, but I need a break from the usual things I post, especially my weekly weigh-in. It's not that I'm going to completely forgo weighing-in, I'm simply going to weigh-in once a month. If you read my last post, then you know that I am struggling with healthy living. I am constantly feeling like a failure (my clothes don't fit, I don't like the way I look, etc.), and right now, I want to focus on how to feel better instead of how much I weigh. I hope that makes sense.

So, these posts will continue with just a few tweaks! Read on to see this week's training, best run, bravo moment, and quote of the week.

Tuesday: 3.1 miles, 36:06
Thursday: 2.54 miles, 31:21
Saturday: Vinewinder Race, 4.1 miles, 48:33
Sunday: 3.14 miles, 36:20

Total: 12.9 miles

Rolling hills and lots of rain for this year's Vinewinder Race in Hershey, PA

Best Run
Tuesday's 5k run after work was beautiful- great weather, negative splits (12:06/11:48/11:19), and there were sweet purple flowers lining the new running trail in our town to look at. I wish every run felt like this one 😃

Bravo Moment
Ok, so if you don't know sweet "Weight Watchers" lingo 😆, a "bravo" is a small, green sticker that we give out in Weight Watchers meetings when a member shares something they did this past week that they are proud of or something that advanced their weight-loss/health journey. So here's my bravo moment for this week: Yesterday was Mother's Day and Matthew and I hosted our families for lunch. We made WW-friendly foods, had plenty of vegetables and fruit on hand, and I managed to stay away from the cake and the rice krispy treats. And I didn't go over my points for the day! Woohoo!

And I got to spend time with my momma ❤

Quote of the Week
This week's quote comes from the ever-brilliant Lauren: "Keep tracking, keep training, keep trying." Wise words from a wise lady and just what I needed to get back on track.

Have a great week, friends!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

To Pittsburgh, With Love

Confession time: I was kinda dreading Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend.

I have been struggling.

Hating myself struggling. Stress eating struggling. Not wanting to run struggling.

My weight is the highest it's been in two and a half years; my clothes don't fit the way they normally do. Work has me incredibly stressed which affects my sleep, my mood, and my ability to get out the door for a run. I am disappointed with where I am in this journey. The years of healthy habits I have worked so hard to cement into the foundation of my life are starting to weigh me down.

Tracking my food. Always choosing the healthy option. Planning meals. Running. Strength training. Exercising. Making time for training. I am tired of doing these things.

This healthy lifestyle routine? It sucks. I hate doing it. I hate that I have to do it. Why can't I just be a normal weight, healthy person who doesn't have to ever think about food? Why can't I just be naturally athletic, run fast without trying, and love to work out? Why can't I have endless energy and a flexible schedule so I can cross off my to-do list and finish all the projects I keep meaning to get to?

I don't have the answers to these somewhat dramatic and irrational questions.

But here's what I do know; Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend made the struggle feel a little less crappy.

Starting line of the half marathon. 

I don't know if it was the races, the people, or the city itself- but my spirits were definitely lifted this past weekend.

There's something about the Pittsburgh Marathon races that makes you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself; like you belong somewhere. Like all these tens of thousands of people have the same, shared goal you have- to finish the race you start.

Home stretch of the 5k.

I can pinpoint the moment that something changed. Around mile six of the half marathon, I suddenly felt a jolt of pure joy- endorphins, maybe- and was overcome with happiness. I felt good... strong... athletic... healthy. I haven't felt much like that in a long time.

Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind.

Beyonce was playing in my headphones, the sun was shining, and I was high-fiving spectators and keeping an eye out for my running ohana- some were running, some were cheering. Throughout the course, I got to see familiar faces and hear encouraging and supportive words from friends. Strangers cheered for me by name- probably because it was on my bib, but still :-) I finished a tough course and then joined my husband and running ohana to cheer for folks still out there racing towards the finish.

I felt like a runner again. I felt like an athlete again. I felt motivated to want to keep trying- to maintain my weight, to get faster, to train more effectively. I felt like me again.

The crew.

Today my muscles are sore, my feet are blistered, and I've still got unpacking and lots of laundry to do. But I feel great. And somehow finding the time to run, and meal prep, and track my food doesn't seem to feel as crappy as it did before.

Like I said, I don't know if it's the races, the city, or the people, but Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend has some kind of magic in it. And I am so, so grateful. ❤

Friday, April 28, 2017

Vacation Recap & Review: All Aboard the Disney Wonder!

Last month, Matthew and I took a spontaneous cruise on the Disney Wonder- the only Disney Cruise Line ship we hadn't been on. We first sailed on the Dream, got engaged on the Magic, and honeymooned on the Fantasy.

While looking for spring break vacation ideas, Matthew stumbled upon a three-night itinerary on the Wonder. We just had to book it! So, three weeks before we would set sail, we booked a trip on the Disney Wonder. With less than a month to plan, we did a lot of research on the ship's restaurants, bars, pools, etc., by reading a ton of blogs and reviews. The Wonder had just come out of dry dock in November (basically it was remodeled and upgraded) and we were so excited to explore a brand new (to us) ship!

The wondrous Disney Wonder.

Our cruise left Port Canaveral on a Thursday. We took a 6 am flight to Orlando so we could be in the airport, and thus on the bus to Port Canaveral, super early. We got to the port around 10 am and they started letting folks on around 11:30. Unfortunately, we were in boarding group 21 so we had a while to wait before we could board the ship- about another half hour after boarding started.

When we boarded the ship, we were immediately impressed with the new chandelier, designed to mimic the flower in Ariel's hair. We also were struck with how "small" the atrium was. I think because we'd just gotten off the Dream in January, the atrium seemed smaller than it really was. However, it was still incredibly beautiful and the Ariel statue was simply perfect!

This trip, we had planned on getting a drink at every bar on the ship- seven in all. We made a beeline for Promenade Lounge, grabbed a few mojitos, and took an unofficial tour of the third and fourth decks- all the restaurants, shops, info desks, etc. Then we decided to skip our traditional embarkation day lunch at Cabanas, the buffet on deck nine, and opted for a sit-down meal in Triton's.

Check out that gorgeous Little Mermaid mural!

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying our room, lounging at the pool, and touring the ship. We were so impressed with so many things on this ship, including the adult-only area, "After Hours." Featuring a gorgeous nightclub, "Azure," a meticulously-themed bar, "Cadillac Lounge," and a proper English pub, "Crown & Fin." To say these spaces were gorgeous is an understatement.

We dominated 90's music trivia in Crown & Fin. 

Check out the details in this lounge- so neat!

Definitely one of our favorite areas on the ship.

This trip, we chose a different type of room to stay in- a Navigator's Veranda. Typically, we get a room with a traditional veranda/balcony. The Navigator's Veranda is a little different in that it's almost like a screened-in porch without the screen. It's hard to describe but hopefully the pictures below will help illustrate it. We really liked this style of room and will probably book this again- especially since it saved us some money as it is less expensive than a traditional veranda.

View of the ocean from the veranda. There were also some navigation tools built into the ledge of the veranda.

There was a bench on the right-hand side, a chair on the left-hand side, and a table in the middle.

View from inside the stateroom looking out.

Our first night on the ship included meeting our table mates for dinner in Triton's (three other childless couples) and checking out a fantastic singer in Cadillac Lounge. We really loved the options for adult-only entertainment on the ship- there was trivia, singers/piano players, game shows, and so much more. Anyone that thinks Disney cruises are just for kids needs to come on vacation with us 😄

The itinerary for this trip was embarkation day, day at sea, Castaway Cay, then back to Port Canaveral for debarkation. 

Our sea day started with complimentary room service: coffee, fruit, yogurt. Then we went for a run on the "jogging track" on deck four. I got to try out my new Altra Torins (which I LOVE!) while getting in about 2.5 miles. 

Sunrise at sea.

Altra Torins- awesome on land and sea.

I'd like to dine like this every day, please.

After our workout, we headed back to Triton's for a sit-down breakfast. On Disney ships, there are always two options for each meal; Cabanas buffet and a traditional restaurant. This trip we definitely took advantage of the sit-down meals more often than we usually do.  

Spending much of our day at sea at the adult-only pool was incredibly relaxing. We grabbed another set of drinks from Signals, the pool bar, and explored the upper decks of the ship. One of the cool things about the Wonder is that Cove Cafe (coffee shop near the pool) is actually on two levels and features some beautiful panoramic views of the ocean. 

18+ pool and hot tubs. Cove Cafe's second floor is in the upper-left corner of this picture. 

We booked a Mixology class for the afternoon and got to enjoy five hand-crafted drinks with Ivan, the Cadillac Lounge head bartender. We absolutely love the tastings and mixology classes offered on Disney cruises. Not only do we learn a ton about the history of the drinks we're making, but we also typically meet some cool people. 

Ivan, making the most delicious chocolate martini.

Our second night of the cruise included seeing "Disney Dreams- An Enchanted Classic," playing a fun round of trivia in Crown & Fin, eating dinner at Animator's Palate, and watching an incredibly awkward game show in Azure. Well, the game show wasn't awkward, but there was one couple playing the game that had broken up years earlier and were trying to rekindle their relationship with a trip on the Disney Wonder. It was so uncomfortable but still funny. I bet those two had some awkward conversations afterward.

We make a pretty good team.

Fancy martinis in Azure.

Our last day on this cruise was our favorite: Castaway Cay! We started the day early with room service as we got ready for the Castaway Cay 5k. After enjoying coffee on our Navigator's Verandah (this is the classification of the stateroom we were in- basically, it's a type of balcony room), we headed down to Azure to get our bibs and get in line to disembark the ship. I decided to dress as my favorite Disney character for this race. It just so happened that she had her own statue in the atrium. 😊

Yup. I brought a dinglehopper with me and ran with it the whole time.

We got off the ship and walked the half mile to the start line of the race. The weather was perfect- we knew it would be a great beach day once we finished the race. We ran using 30:30 second intervals and finished the race in about 36 minutes, roughly 12 minute miles. 

 Tropical mid-race selfies.

Caution runners, rough road ahead.

Torins + the beach = heaven.

After the 5k, we made our way up to the adult beach where I did a yoga class and Matthew napped in a hammock. For real, can we just do this every weekend?! 

We hung around the beach until lunch. Then the clouds started rolling in... and in a matter of 20 minutes, it was pouring down rain! So much for our perfect beach day! We headed back towards the ship, stopping at the "Conched Out" bar to get a drink and wait out the rain. Eventually, the rain did stop, though it felt like the temperature dropped 20 degrees. We spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling and relaxing in hammocks. 

Not a bad view.

That night, we got to see "Frozen,  A Musical Spectacular," which was incredible, and then ate at Tiana's Place, the newest restaurant on the ship. As you might know, I am a huge fan of Princess Tiana. She is my absolute favorite Disney Princess- I trained for my first half and first full marathons listening to "Almost There" and "Dig a Little Deeper" on repeat. You can imagine how damn excited I was to actually be eating in the legit, real-life Tiana's Place. 

It exists!


Can you tell I'm super pumped?!

Not only is the level of detail exquisite (lily-pad trivets, frogs on the dinner plates), but the food is damn good! From the sausage fritters and shrimp and grits appetizers to the cajun spiced sea bass to Tiana's "man-catching beignets," everything was amazing. I even ordered a Purple Haze beer- brewed by Abita Springs in New Orleans. I had authentic New Orleans meals and authentic New Orleans beer in Tiana's restaurant. It was like I was inside the "Princess and a Frog" movie! The desert menu even had light-up fireflies on the outside cover. Light-up fireflies!

These shrimp and grits were so, so good.


But the absolute best part of Tiana's Place is Tiana herself. She personally came around to every table during dinner and said hello/posed for pictures. I might have almost cried when she came to us. After dinner, Tiana and Louis and the Crawfish Crooners- the brass band playing throughout dinner- actually lead us on a second line/limbo line through the restaurant. It was so magical!

BFF's 4 EVA.

Probably the best Disney restaurant we've ever experienced.

After our super-fun dinner at Tiana's, Matthew and I spent our last night on the Disney Wonder in the adult pool, just hanging out and soaking in the last few hours we had on board. 

Seriously, how beautiful is this pool?

One last selfie on the Wonder.

Overall, this was a fabulous trip and we absolutely adored the Disney Wonder. The upgrades they made are simply stunning and in some ways, this ship feels brand new. While we didn't experience them, we heard that the kid's clubs areas had also been refurbished and received significant upgrades. 

This trip came at the perfect time for both of us- we've both had extremely busy semesters at work and have been under a great deal of stress. It was awesome to get on board the ship, turn off our phones, and just hang out with each other (and Mickey!) for a few days. 

Will we sail on the Wonder again? Most definitely! I don't know when, but we'll definitely be back on this ship in the future!

See ya real soon, Disney Wonder!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Accountability Monday: 4/10/2017

Good morning! We've got sunny skies and warm temps today in the mid-Atlantic so already, it's better than last week! Can you believe that is snowed on Friday?! Gross.

Anyway, let's break down last week-

Wednesday- 3.1 miles, 11:16 pace
Saturday- PT knee workout (squats, lunges, glute bridges, etc.)
Sunday- 3 mile hike, 33:20 pace

My cranky knee has been a little achy this week- probably because I haven't been doing the strength training I should be doing. As you know from my last post, life has been pretty busy for us lately and unfortunately, workouts have fallen to the lowest priority in my daily life. My work life should slow down quite a bit after this upcoming week so I should be able to get back into a more healthy routine soon.

Hiking in the beautiful Pocono Mountains.

Food Find of the Week:
This week, I made skinnytaste's Turkey Stuffed Peppers for lunches. I haven't tried them yet, but can already guess they are going to be super yummy. Everything skinnytaste is fabulous! These look hardy and are only 5 Smart Points each.

On tap for lunch all week!

I weighed in last week for the first time in almost 4 weeks and while I wasn't surprised with the number, I wasn't too thrilled either:

151.8 as of 4/5/17

This is definitely my "take action" weight and I've already starting putting some positive healthy changes back into my life (i.e. meal prepping those stuffed peppers above) as they have fallen by the wayside the past few months while work has been kicking my ass.

Non-Scale Victory:
My sleep routine has been on point this past week. I've been getting bed earlier and getting better quality sleep. I think this is one area of health that we tend to overlook, myself included, and I know I make better, healthier decisions when I'm well rested. I'm also nicer to be around 😊

What "healthy routine" are you looking forward to this week?